Social Action and the Power of the Irrational


At the intersection point of social and cultural anthropology, comparative politics and classical political philosophy we can situate a particularly important aspect of political modernism, the inspiration behind and effect mechanism of a certain irrationalism that is extended into the heart of the modern idea of political action and power. This modern reappearance of irrationality is not without precedents and historical background, but it only became a dominant feature of the modern condition. Modernity, on the one hand, is a pure fantasy world, with no connection to reality; even more, it is based on a deliberate escape from and rejection of reality that nevertheless is projected as being ‘more real’ than reality itself. However, on the other hand, alternating with utopian delusions it always manifested a very subtle receptivity, a keen apprehension of rational thinking; so much so that actual according to the modern phantasy world also pretends to be rational action itself. The apparent contradiction can be resolved by pointing out that both these are rooted in irrationality, in the alienation from existing bonds or the real, expressed by the incommensurable.